Participate: Digital Rights and Responsibilities Quest

posted May 16, 2016, 9:55 AM by Emily Kroutil   [ updated May 19, 2016, 7:59 AM ]
Most groups online have acceptable use policies (AUPs).  I'm a member of quite a few Facebook groups that even have AUPs, although they don't call them AUPs.  When your Facebook group has a message like, "please read the pinned post and comment that you've read the post," that's an AUP.  They are outlining the standards of behavior in that group.  Most have rules like treat each other with respect, but some also have particular rules like, "no sharing screen shots outside the group" or "no blocking admins".  Oftentimes, these Facebook groups are purely social, and there is very little traditional learning involved (although I've seen that, at the very least, I learn a lot about different people and their different walks of life).  In a digital learning community, everyone is supposed to have the same goal: advancing the members' knowledge.  In places like this, it is even more important to have AUPs in place, so the members feel as though it is a safe place to make mistakes and learn.

In schools and other places where a lot of learners congregate, AUPs are often treated as legally-binding documents.  Students are required to sign one before they are allowed on the internet and the district/school/teacher keeps these on file.  i-SAFE America says this about AUPs:
My district does something like this.  Although I think they send home the paperwork and if the parents DON'T sign it, they are allowing their child to go online and participate and if the document is returned SIGNED, that means the parent does not give permission for their child to use the internet.  I am not usually in charge of this paperwork, so I've often *forgotten* how these forms work, the district's procedure for them, because my tiny brain can only handle so much :)

When creating a digital learning community, it is important that everyone is aware of the AUP for the group.  This way, people know how to act and also how not to act.  I can imagine that teaching a virtual class requires much online interaction between the students and not just between student and teacher.  An AUP would set the stage for acceptable behavior and then if anyone deviates from this standard of behavior, they cannot claim ignorance.

Below are some ideas I took from i-SAFE America of things I might want to take into consideration when creating an AUP for my DLC (again, look at all that ed lingo!):

To support and protect my DLC, it will be important to have an AUP that not only outlines the responsibilities of each member and the standards of acceptable behavior, but also outlines their rights as participants.  In my virtual classroom, I plan to do the following to protect the integrity of my safe learning environment:
  • Create an AUP outline my students' rights as responsibilities as members of our DLC
  • Educate my students on proper netiquette and digital citizenship (I want them to truly understand what they are signing in the next step)
  • Require my students to sign (or digitally sign) the AUP
  • Hold my students accountable for their actions according to the rights and responsibilities outlined in the AUP
Maintaining the integrity of my DLC as a safe place where students feel comfortable asking questions and making mistakes is of the utmost importance to me.  Hopefully, this plan will help me maintain a safe and respectful DLC.